Chapter 38 - Forward to the Past
The paradox alarm sounded again and Jeff became very worried. While he had expected there to be some degree of paradox based on his actions, he had never imagined that it could reach back to the pleistocene. The fact that it had meant that whatever he had done had created much more damage than he had ever expected. There was only one thing he could do; he’d have to go back to Winter Camp XX and reclaim the pictures. Once he did that, he’d be able to set things straight and everything would be fine again.
The only bad part of his plan was that it meant he’d have to admit defeat. For the last five years, he’d bragged that he would finally be able to go back and put the pictures in place and his friends had mocked him pretty much continuously. The only ones who’d given him even a chance at succeeding were Steve and Roger; the rest had basically told him he was all wet.
He began the laborious process of trying to reprogram the chips to take him back to Winter Camp XX. Unfortunately, he didn’t have all the tools he needed here, nor did he have the computing power necessary to check his calculations. The one thing he did have on his side, strangely enough, was time. He turned off the auto-recall feature of his capsule and changed his transponder codes. That would prevent control from executing a return command from the base.
Checking his foodstuffs, he determined that he had no more than three days to accomplish the necessary programming. He settled on a departure target of noon on the third day and began making the necessary calculations for the displacement. He relished the challenge, as modern technology rarely required that he do much serious thinking. The possibility for true problem solving excited him, and the hours went by quickly.
Sleeping only briefly, he completed the work on the programming about three hours early. He planned to return and tell his future self not to leave the pictures; it seemed like the best solution. Once he warned himself of the danger, he could return to his normal time, somewhat humiliated but with an intact sense of reality.
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